Monday, February 7, 2022

The Comfort of a Log Cabin Quilt...

 There's something about a log cabin quilt that just oozes comfort and warmth.  Maybe it is that little red square in the middle that folklore says represents a fireplace.  Maybe it's because we are all so familiar with the pattern.  It just feels right for these frigid days of February.

And speaking of that little red square in the center, it wasn't until I was watching an hgtv show, Houses with History, that I had a lightbulb moment about that center fireplace.  It was wonderful to actually see the huge fireplace and easier to understand how the fire warmed the entire house.  I think the name of the houses that they showed were called "center chimney cape houses."  An example I found on pinterest:

In quilt history books, the log cabin is an interesting pattern.  The pattern is believed to have become popular because of President Lincoln's humble beginnings yet the pattern itself is believed to be ancient (a great article is here).

The first log cabin I found mentioned in newspapers was in 1864 in Pittsburgh, PA by the Allegheny Ladies' Aid Society.  Throughout the 1860s a few quilts are mentioned and most notably, a list of premiums from the Union County Agricultural Fair in Ohio lists "best log cabin" as a category in 1869.  In 1870, the Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette actually printed instructions on how to make the pattern.  After I wrote this post I also found this interesting article from Brackman's Material Culture blog.

Most of us began our quilting journey by making the pattern.  It is easy whether you piece or use a foundation.  Best of all, there are all kinds of variations one can make with them.  I am hoping to do a curved log cabin pattern later this year.

Today I thought I would feature some of my old log cabin quilts.

My oldest log cabin quilt is from the last quarter of the 19th century.  I call it the Lace Log Cabin Quilt because it features fabrics that were meant to replicate lace:

 Light and Dark Log Cabin
Aka Sunshine and Shadows

One of my favorite log cabin quilts is this one from the 1940s. It is also arranged as Sunshine and Shadows.   We've always called it the Candy Log Cabin because of the lovely colors. 

Below is a quilt I had at one point (I've since given it away).  It was from the 1920s:
Barn Raising layout.

I can't remember if the pattern below had a specific name.  I think it did but for the life of me, I---(a) can't remember it and (b) can't find my book on log cabin variations.  It's a top and from the turn of the century.  The fabric is very stiff.

Another variation that I can't remember the name of is below.  This was a family quilt handed down.  Nobody knows who made it.  

The backing (below) makes me think it is circa 1900:

Have you made or collected any quilts with this pattern?

Have a safe and happy day!


  1. Indeed there is something comforting about a Log cabin quilt. They are satisfying to make as well. There is something about simply picking up strips and sewing along to a nice rhythm. When people brought Log Cabin quilts into our Maine documentation days, we always noted on the form whether or not they had a red chimney. I think they was at least 90% red. But then we have loads of center chimney capes in Maine. My grandmother lived in one dated to about 1780. I love your collection of Log Cabins, especially the "candy" one.

  2. I saw that episode just this morning! I will be teaching a diamond log cabin in October and have been wanted to find more info/lore about the center block.

  3. My first full sized quilt was a log cabin quilt that I made for my parents. I should say I pieced it and my mum and Aunt Louise quilted it. I remember how I agonized over what layout I wanted. I think I went with straight furrows, but it's been a while since I've had it out. Now I need to go take a look to refresh my memory.

  4. I have yet to complete a log cabin quilt in spite of the fact that I really like them. Have you heard of Manx quilting? It's a log cabin block but it has a unique construction method. This link gives a lot of information including a video;
    I haven't tried it yet but it would sure be a good hand project.

  5. My first quilt was a sampler with a log cabin block among others. The woman who taught the class never identified any of the blocks by name! On other samplers I've made variations, and Bonnie Hunter has a wonky courthouse steps block I'm going to try. Good articles .

  6. One of my earliest quilts is a log cabin made for my son's high school graduation 28 years ago! Just made my second log cabin top for our quilting ministry a couple months ago, still awaiting quilting.

  7. around 2008 I started piecing log cabin blocks with 1 1/2" strips. One strip cut from each of the 1800's reprints I had in my collection at the time. I have since added to that bin as I have purchased more fabrics. I imagine a huge quilt now with all the strips in there, that have not been sewn on for quite some time. So many other UFOs that would be quicker to finish, closer to a finish... if I could/would just find them again.